Jessi Hoopes grimaces with determination while racing her horse “Hickory” at the Racing in the Rockies 2014 series opener in March at the Old Spanish Trail Arena in Moab. [Photo by Verl Luppes]

Dust will be flying and spurs will be gleaming this weekend at Old Spanish Trail Arena when the Racing in the Rockies’ final barrel-racing event of the 2014 Summer Series comes to Moab.

Racing in the Rockies hosts barrel-racing events throughout western Colorado and eastern Utah, and this weekend’s series will feature award presentations for the entire 2014 series, with ceremonies taking place after Sunday’s races.

Life-long barrel-racing and rodeo competitor Terri Gold of Eagle, Colo., is producing the event along with Moab-based sponsors Big Horn Lodge and Moab Valley Inn. Gold started the Racing in the Rockies series in the late 1980s after serving as a director for the western slope of Colorado for the National Barrel Horse Association for several years prior, and has personally been coming to Moab to barrel-race since construction of Old Spanish Trail Arena was completed.

The event is expected to draw close to 100 riders each day with competitors coming into town from all over the Southwest. For many of the riders, barrel-racing events are a family affair.

“I love all the people you get to hang out with on the weekend at (barrel-racing) events,” Gold said. “We camp, barbecue and in general just have a great time doing what we love with our equine partners. There are not many other sports where the whole family, often up to three generations, are traveling and competing together.”

Fifteen-year-old Sydney Surin of Silt, Colo., has been rodeoing since she was 5, when she started competing in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association. In 2007 at the tender age of 8, Surin was crowned World Champion, and followed up the next season with titles of All-around Champion and Rookie of the Year in the Colorado Junior Rodeo Association. Since 2009, Surin has focused most of her training on barrel-racing.

“My family and I decided (barrel-racing) was the best route for me to get ready to turn professional when I turn 18,” Surin said.

The decision has proved to be a sound one, as Surin and her two horses, 14-year-old mare “Zan’s Baby Chick”, or “Baby” for short, and 4-year-old filly “Sug’s Perfection Ta Fame”, or “Chicky” for short, finished up last season by qualifying for the semi-finals of the $1 million-purse American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas. This season has been equally successful so far, as Surin and “Baby” have entered 64 races, winning 44 of them, and placing in the money in 58 of them.

Of all the events Surin participates in, Gold’s Racing in the Rockies are her favorite.

“I just love all of the ladies (involved in barrel-racing),” Surin said. “They all support me and each other so much; it’s great to be with all of them. We look forward to the Moab races every year, it’s so beautiful and the weather can’t be beat.”

Jessi Hoopes of Loma, Colo., will also be making the trip to Moab. Hoopes is enjoying her first full season of competing in barrel-racing, a life-long dream finally recognized after being given her first horse at the age of 9. Hoopes also races two horses, “Classic Hickory”, or “Hickory” for short, and “Iza Doll”, or “Dolly” for short. This is Hickory’s first year of racing, which places her in the novice class of races, a class reserved for horses in their initial year of racing, that Hoopes particularly enjoys.

“I really enjoy training my own horses, so they have my style and work off of my queues,” Hoopes said. “I love running novice horses; it is just so fun to see them develop. Hickory has been excelling this year, and is very consistent, which in barrel-racing is a huge blessing. Barrel-racing is a very humbling sport; sometimes you’re at the top and something can change, or you or your horse start having issues, and all of a sudden you’re at the bottom.”

Prospective racers can register online through Thursday, Sept. 11 at, or in person throughout the weekend.

Races begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13, and at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14. There is no charge for admission for spectators.

Barrel-racing series to stop at Old Spanish Trail Arena

I just love all of the ladies (involved in barrel-racing). They all support me and each other so much; it’s great to be with all of them. We look forward to the Moab races every year, it’s so beautiful and the weather can’t be beat.

What: Racing in the Rockies – Moab

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. Highway 191

When: Saturday, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m.

Cost: Free for spectators